Posted by: Cathi Brese Doebler | July 27, 2009

Let’s race!

If you’ve ever seen the movie Mary Poppins, you might remember the scene where Mary asks the children she is watching to clean up their room. At first, the children are not excited about doing any cleaning. Mary changes their attitude, however, when she applies one of her tricks and teaches them how to make the toys come alive and clean up themselves.

I certainly don’t have the ability to makes toys come alive, but I do have a fun trick I have used with my kids from the time they could run; the Let’s race! game. I’ve used this idea when I want to get them to a different location or activity, such as:

  • Up the stairs to get ready for bed
  • Into the house after playing outside

Often, my kids are enjoying themselves, and don’t want to change what they are doing. Although this is certainly understandable, there are many times when they need to change what they are doing.

My trick is a fun way for me to get them not only to change what they’re doing, but to do it quickly. Here are some examples:

  1. When it is time for bed, and I want my child to stop playing and to go get on pajamas, I usually say something like this: “It’s time to go to your room to get on your pj’s…and I bet I’ll get up to the top of the stairs first.” It takes about 2 seconds for my child to race with me up the stairs.
  2. When my kids are in the backyard with me, and I know that it is time for us to go in, I’ll say, “Okay, it’s time to go in…I’ll race you to the back door.” Once again, at least one of them starts to run for the house immediately, wanting to win the race.

I guess the word trick is not truly appropriate. Instead of tricking them, I’m just trying to make a necessary action fun. What other fun ideas do you try?



  1. Here’s one I used when my kids were younger. They had a “play room”. Whenever I wanted them to clean up there toys I would tell them to only clean up the blue toys. When those were cleaned up we would move onto other colors. It always seemed to work. Now if I could find a “trick” now that they are much older 🙂

    • This is an excellent idea! I can see why it would work so well because when kids are young the idea of “cleaning up a room” is very overwhelming. This is an easy way for them to learn how to break up the cleaning job into manageable steps. Awesome! Thanks Brenda!

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